New Zealand, National Championship 2011
Gisborne, Poverty Bay
4 - 6 March
Last Thursday the New Zealand OK fleet arrived at Gisborne for the 2011 OK Nationals, which have not been held there for a number of decades. This represents part of the OK fleet’s on-going growth in New Zealand and willingness to hold national championships outside of the traditional OK strongholds of Auckland, Napier and Wellington. That will continue in 2012 with the first South Island OK nationals in many years to be held at Lyttelton Yacht Club.
Once again the fleet was very strong, although at 29 it was reduced somewhat from 2010’s pre-worlds nationals in Wellington. Current World Champion Karl Purdie (Wellington) had been training at the venue for the best part of a week leading up to the contest, and was clearly determined to defend his national title from 2010. Luke O’Connell (Wellington) led the 2010/2011 NZ OK ranking series going into the nationals, and other strong contenders included current 2010 Worlds bronze medallist Matt Steven (Wellington) and former national champions Ben Morrison (Auckland), Russell Pagewood (Auckland), Paul Rhodes (Wellington) and Steve McDowell (Wellington).
This year’s event was shared with the NZ Javelin Nationals, which as it turned out did not affect proceedings noticeably, there being only 6 Javelins competing.
The forecast was generally for strong winds and Friday did not disappoint, producing a brisk Northerly averaging 20 knots with the occasional 30 knot gust. Race 1 started just after 1.00pm and Karl Purdie quickly took the lead and extended throughout the race to notch up a solid win, followed by Matt Steven and Auckland’s Brad Douglas. It was apparent early on that, while the race area looked fairly featureless at first glance, there were plenty of shifts and holes to play with – and the middle of the track was not paying. Race 2 was sailed in similar conditions, with Purdie dominating once more and some erratic results coming from others in the fleet. Steven found himself stuck in the wrong corner and finished 9th, while Auckland’s Andrew Pardington and Russell Pagewood sailed a solid race to take 2nd and 3rd respectively with Douglas in 4th. After Day 1 Purdie held the lead with Douglas in 2nd and Ben Morrison in 3rd (having carded a 4th and a 5th).
Day 2 began in somewhat lighter conditions than Day 1, and a shifty, patchy 5-15 knot northerly provided some extremely testing sailing throughout the three races of the day.
Race 3 was a cracker in which Douglas, Purdie and Pagewood battled furiously for the lead throughout. Douglas took an early lead and defended brilliantly under heavy pressure from Pagewood and Purdie to lead across the finish, only to find he had been over early at the start. Pagewood executed some smart tactical sailing to take Purdie at the death and take the race, while Luke O’Connell finished third.
In Race 4 the veteran Nigel Mannering, after struggling on Day 1 with his new WB sail from Finland, finally worked out how to tune it and led the entire race to take a precious nationals race victory. Immediately the word went out – “could this finally be Nige’s year??”. However, that seemed unlikely as Purdie, O’Connell and Steven took 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Once again the Worser Bay OK machine was beginning to showing its dominance, while erratic performances from the Aucklanders were not helping the Wakatere cause with Douglas 6th, Morrison 7th, Pagewood 11th and Pardington 12th. The Wellington form continued in Race 5’s light and fluky conditions, with O’Connell and McDowell showing solid upwind strategy and excellent downwind technique to finish 1st and 2nd, followed by Auckland’s light air specialist Alistair Deaves in 3rd.
On Saturday evening, after the 2011 NZOKDA Annual General Meeting, Gisborne Yacht Club produced a magnificent BBQ dinner and the fleet then returned to the event sponsor Emerald Hotel for spa pools and a quiet Gisborne Gold or two. With everyone being fairly focused on the final day of competition, festivities were quite restrained – this may also have had something to do with the 25-35 knot Southerly that was expected to arrive the next morning.
Sunday dawned rainy and still, with ominous black clouds on the Southern horizon and a number of tired, nervous OK sailors hanging around the yacht club wondering what the day would bring. As it turned out, the big breeze never eventuated although a moderate sou-wester built as we made our way out onto the course. Race 6 started in around 16 knots and Douglas and Morrison shot out to an early lead, only to be cruelly punished halfway up the beat when all the early tackers hooked into a massive right-hand shift and powered to the top mark led by Purdie. Douglas had been far enough advanced to still hold onto 2nd around the first mark, and he and Purdie commenced a tight battle. Unfortunately for them, the battle was so tight that halfway up the second beat, tacking up the middle of the track, they failed to spot Steven, O’Connell, McDowell, Rhodes, Morrison and Pagewood well out to the right and once again in a big right-hand pressure line. Those six carried on to finish in that order, followed by Douglas and Purdie in 7th and 8th.
Going into the final race, Purdie held a slim lead over Steven and O’Connell and the regatta was wide open. The wind continued to strengthen and veer right, and Pagewood rounded the top mark first, followed by Pardington and Steven. By the bottom mark positions had changed somewhat and Steven held a slim lead over Purdie and McDowell, with O’Connell close behind. It all came down to the final run, where Purdie sailed a very good leg to pass Steven and hold his lead up the short beat to the finish and take his second national title. Steve finished the race second and McDowell was third.
In the final analysis, Purdie was a deserving winner with Steven 2nd, O’Connell 3rd, McDowell 4th and Morrison 5th. The Worser Bay sailors were clearly dominant, taking out 6 of the top 10 spots, with Wakatere taking 5th, 6th and 7th and only one Napier sailor scraping in at 10th.
We would like to thank Gisborne YC for hosting a fine regatta, Emerald Hotel for providing excellent accommodation at great rates, and all the competitors for making the trip and giving it their best.
|1||Karl Purdie||Worser Bay BC||1||1||2||2||5||8||1||12|
|2||Matt Steven||Worser Bay BC||2||9||3||4||4||1||2||16|
|3||Luke O'Connell||Worser Bay BC||5||6||4||3||1||2||5||20|
|4||Steve McDowell||Worser Bay BC||9||7||6||5||2||3||3||26|
|5||Ben Morrison||Wakatere BC||4||5||9||7||12||5||6||36|
|6||Russell Pagewood||Wakatere BC||8||3||1||11||16||6||10||39|
|7||Andrew Pardington||Wakatere BC||6||2||7||12||7||18||7||41|
|8||Matt Stechman||Worser Bay BC||7||8||10||8||15||10||30||58|
|9||Paul Rhodes||Worser Bay BC||30||30||5||9||8||4||4||60|
|10||Nigel Mannering||Napier SC||11||12||8||1||18||15||14||61|
|11||Alistair Deaves||Wakatere BC||15||16||12||19||3||12||8||66|
|12||Rob Hengst||Napier SC||12||13||15||10||6||20||12||68|
|13||Brad Douglas||Wakatere BC||3||4||30||6||19||7||30||69|
|14||Owen Anderson||Worser Bay BC||10||10||14||13||14||11||11||69|
|15||Trent Pryce||Napier SC||13||11||13||17||10||17||30||81|
|16||Peter Robinson||Drummoyne SC||14||18||17||15||11||22||9||84|
|17||Marty Weeks||Napier SC||16||14||16||14||17||13||13||86|
|18||Jono Clough||Worser Bay BC||20||17||19||22||13||9||15||93|
|19||Chris Fenwick||Napier SC||19||22||21||18||9||16||17||100|
|20||Joe Porebski||Worser Bay BC||17||19||11||16||22||21||30||106|
|21||Adrian Coulthard||Napier SC||22||20||18||20||20||14||18||110|
|22||Brett Graham||Wakatere BC||21||15||23||21||24||19||16||115|
|23||Martin Pike||Napier SC||18||21||20||23||23||30||30||135|
|24||Evert Nijzink||Napier SC||30||30||22||24||21||30||30||157|
|25||Nigel Comber||Wakatere BC||30||30||30||25||25||30||30||170|
|26||Josh Weeks||Napier SC||30||30||30||30||30||30||30||180|
|27||Mark Perrow||Wakatere BC||30||30||30||30||30||30||30||180|
|28||Michael Morrison||Wakatere BC||30||30||30||30||30||30||30||180|
|29||Grant Pedersen||Wakatere BC||30||30||30||30||30||30||30||180|